Have you ever gone outside and notice that your plant leaves are actually covered with dark speckles and spots? The first thought that probably comes to your mind is that probably it must be a fungal attack but when you go closer to take a better look you realize that there are some segmented waxy bugs and cottony materials on the leaves. Well, what you have right there is a mealybug and in this article we would be showing you how to control mealybugs outdoors so your garden would not be overrun by it.
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How To Identify Mealybugs In Your Garden
Sucking and piercing members of the insect super family coccoidea are the mealybugs and they are known to commonly attack houseplants. They are also capable of affecting the growth of plants in your garden and they also have a varying range in size which is dependent on species and maturity level. When they attack an outdoor plant, these bugs tends to live in colonies and when laying eggs, the female mealybugs always have this cotton patches appearance. The adult mealybugs are not seen always and they also have two wings.
The mealybugs that are just hatched are pinkish or yellowish in color and they are more mobile than the adult mealybugs and also the nymph stages. The effect of mealybugs in your garden is that they limit the vigor of your plants and this is a bigger problem when they suck sap from stems and leaves in large populations. Mealybugs also tend to secrete a sugary excrement known as honeydew when they feed on a plant and it results into a sooty mold fungus developing on the honeydew.
The effect of all these on plants as well is that it cuts down the ability of these plants to carry out photosynthesis and this in turn causes these leaves to fall off and die.
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How To Control Mealybugs Outdoors
Based on their seclusive nature and waxy coating, mealybugs somehow find a way to repel insecticide when it is used on them but in some cases, neem oil can also try to help. Controlling outdoor mealybugs can be best achieved just by inviting into your garden their natural predators. This makes controlling these bugs outdoor quite easier than controlling them when they feed on indoor greenhouses and houseplants. Listed below are some of the enemies that mealybugs have;
- Brown and green lacewing larvae also known as aphid lions and they are capable of consuming about two hundred insects in a day
- Ladybird beetles which are also good at feeding on insect eggs and small insects
- Spiders can also be used as they are effective when it comes to trapping, ambushing or hunting insects
- Mealybug destroyer beetle are non spotted ladybug species which also feed on mealybugs
- Minute pirate bugs are known to be vigorous hunters which can kill small pests and still not eat them
As a gardener, you can also make use of cultural methods in dealing with mealybugs outdoors and you can try out any of the tips listed below when controlling mealybugs outdoors using cultural methods;
- Make sure insecticides that would kill beneficial insects are not used in your garden
- Plants that are vulnerable to mealybugs should be inspected regularly so infected ones can be handpicked
- Infected plants should be replaced using plants that are not vulnerable to mealybugs attack
Finally, the release or encouraging of beneficial insects combined with the use of cultural practices would greatly cut down on the population of mealybugs in your garden.
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